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Author Topic: What to do...  (Read 3372 times)

ksinca

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What to do...
« on: September 15, 2008, 11:12:56 PM »
Hi Oscar,

so last year I recvd one of these extortion letters for a site that was defunct.
I took the images down - and eventually shut the site down completely and also this past tax year shut down my S-corp that the site was registered to.

I can't say for sure where the images came from. I can say that Getty doesn't watermark anything and I have found out since, that people download getty images by the lot and sell them on other sites as legit. Also sites sell images for tokens and give no receipt. And getty owns sites like this.
But the website was designed for me and I can't say for sure about the original source of images in question.
Images are very difficult to validate the original source. Its not like music where you KNOW or can be MORE SURE of the author/original source.

So as I said, I took the images down, took the site down, and ended up just shutting the company down as well.

I searched the internet at the time I recvd the letter and it seems all were saying ignore it and since I complied (which I thought was the whole point) I did just that. The letters are mailed to my company name and POBox, but they have the phone#  from the original site.

At any rate, 2 letters. I ignored them. So far 2 calls from NCS which I have also ignored.
I guess I am just tired of the game - what a waste of my time - not to mention a complete loss of any good will Getty may have had if it were handled better.

SO my question - I really don't have any desire to do anything more since I complied.
BUT I figure I need to be sure of a few things:

1- on AVVO someone mentioned : "Since the Copyright Act was substantially revised in 1976, you don't even have to register a work in the United States Library of Congress anyway" ---- is this valid & true. If so, how does asking them to prove a copyright have any value??

2- on AVVO someone mentioned: "Copyright law, however, grants to registered copyright owners the right to recover at least $750 for each infringing reproduction" - is that true?? If so, the large amount they are asking is less than 2x more.

I cannot afford these extortionary amounts and have no intention of it. Though I do not want to be a test case in the courts.

So can you address those 2 questions and suggest the best route, whether your letter or some other method?

thanks for your time.
Wish I had started this site myself last year or knew who to call.

Thank you for giving your time to this.
I really believe that until Getty's tactics are brought into the light, they will continue to push the edge with their extortion letters.

Thanks again!
K-

Oscar Michelen

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Re: What to do...
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2008, 01:32:46 PM »
Okay,let me answer the two questions you post first:

 1- on AVVO someone mentioned : "Since the Copyright Act was substantially revised in 1976, you don't even have to register a work in the United States Library of Congress anyway" ---- is this valid & true. If so, how does asking them to prove a copyright have any value??
Answer-  It has always been the law that once you create a work of art- a song, a piece of music, a photograph, a novel- you automatically own the copyright to it.  There is no need to record it to own the copyright. You may have heard of a "poor person's copyright" putting the song, image, etc, in an envelope and mailing it to yourself and never opening it. While this method has never been usedin a US court of law, I suppose there is no reason why it would not stand up. But under the Copyright of 1976 (which is the one still in effect today) you only get certain STATUTORY DAMAGES if you have registered your copyright. If you did not register your copyright with the Copyright Office or online, then you can only get ACTUAL DAMAGES.  There is a big difference between the two, especially for an image. For example, if it were a song that was improperly used, you could get actual damages for every time that song was played on the radio or in a concert. But for an image which could have been licensed for use on a website for $49.00 that's all your actual damages.  I have been reviewed by AVVOand it is a wonderful site, but look at the experience and knowledge of the person posting responses before you decide to act on their advice or answers.

2- on AVVO someone mentioned: "Copyright law, however, grants to registered copyright owners the right to recover at least $750 for each infringing reproduction" - is that true?? If so, the large amount they are asking is less than 2x more.  
Answer- Yes,  but read your question - it grants to REGISTERED COPYRIGHT OWNERS that right.  Getty and its photographers are not registered copyright owners because photographers don't register each image as it would be too expensive. Additionally, the very next section of that law also states that if the alleged infringer can establish that they were "innocent infringers" as almost all of the people getting letters from Getty are, then the court has the discretion to reduce the STATUTORY DAMAGES to $200 per infringement. So that even if a photographer has registered his image, chances are that Getty would end up with $200 in damages as most courts award this for one time innocent infringement.  


If your corporation is closed up and no longer functioning, then why even bother with all of this.  I will be lgad to write the letter for you for our agreed rate of $150.00 if you want some closure and peace of mind that they will not be able to contact you directly. As for being a test case, Getty has not field a single lawsuit over this since 2005/2006 when this campaign began. I doubt they woudl start with you.  More than likely they will start with my client who began this website and has still not paid Getty their demanded sums.   You can call me at 516-248-8000 if you would like to discuss your claim.

 

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